Thursday, December 9, 2010

Options For Center Pieces and Table Settings

Centerpieces vary depending the theme and wedding budget... If you let us know what you need or what idea you may have we will work on making it a reality. Usually it comes down to affordability. You may ask for any flowers or arrangements you can imagine:)) We will try to accomodate your request. Imperial Style Table... You may have lighting insde the table which looks great at night under the stars. Flowers set in a centerpiece above eye level is a great idea so you can see other guests across the table. Flowers vary with taste and budget... starting from 35usd a nice centerpiece or 200usd or more, like these last two you se here... For more information please visit

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kristi and Adam Tie the Knot in Martoca... lovely!

Kristi was very much in control and visibly happy and proud of her wedding party. Needless to say she looked stunning! She needs to send me her pictures so I can show you:)

Everyone was amazed at the beauty of Martoca Beach Garden. The flowers and vegetation surrounding the lovely setting for their wedding were vibrant with color. The weather was perfect and the guests were enjoying every minute of their vacation/wedding. The night before they had a joyful evening in another popular location called La Laguna. They had activities all week and as I spoke to the wedding party they all seemed to be having the time of their lives.
It is an honor and our pleasure to welcome the newest members of our family to Martoca Beach Garden. I truly enjoyed this wedding party. They had such a good time and they had excellent ideas for their decorations and ceremony. Our wedding planner Laura simply put it all together and added a few touches like these awesome center pieces. For information on these packages please email us at

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Boda por Terranova Eventos Nov 13, 2010 Sofía y Alex

Viva los novios! La boda más reciente de Martoca Beach Garden ha sido todo un éxito. Nuestros amigos Alejandro y Sofía de Guadalajara se casaron emocionados durante una puesta del sol mágica sobre la Riviera Nayarit. Que hermoso ramo!

Como pueden ver, está muy de moda tener un tema durante su boda. Esto le da un toque de diversión que le da sabor a una fiesta que en ocasiones puede ser monótona. No tengas miedo de agregar un tema en tu boda ya sea de carnaval, casino, tropical u otros temas. Pregúntanos!

Los paquetes como este que incluyen un banquete de 3 tiempos, descorche, decoraciones, valet parking,  etc. pueden costar desde 800 pesos por persona en adelante (dependen fecha y número de personas). Contáctanos e infórmate para que tu boda sea un evento memorable en Martoca Beach Garden

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wedding by EM-Vallarta for Jason and Virginia Nov 6, 2010

I enjoyed this wedding. Very well done and organized to perfection. I love this style of elegance without going overboard. Simple and chic and very intimate. The family and friends that were present were very happy. They came up to us and congratulated us on our venue many times. I took a few pictures that I will show you here however, when the professional pictures arrive I will share those as well.

The ceremony on the beach with the tequila shots and Mariachi was awesome! Congratulations Virginia and Jason. Thank you for choosing Martoca Beach Garden for your special day!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Perfect Weather For Your Special Day

My friends from the USA and Canada always ask me when is the best time to come visit Puerto Vallarta area either for vacation or a wedding. A combination of both, which is the advantage of a destination wedding in the first place since it provides both a vacation and a wedding all in one trip, is my recommendation for all brides.


In my opinion as a native of this area I can tell you I love both the summer and the winter time. We actually only have two seasons here, rainy season and dry season. The bulk of the rain falls in the summer months from June through September and most of it comes around sunset time or at night however the rest of the year is pretty much dry with sporadic showers in between. The summer days are much longer and clearer than the winter months. You can see clear across the bay after a good rainy night. I love it. The days are so long you can do everything under the sun for 13 hours or so. The humidity is dramatically increased compared to the dry season and there is no early morning or late evening brisk breeze however the breeze off the ocean is constant and if you are in the pool or beach you will not notice the weather at all. The ones who suffer are the ones who work here and have to see you with envious eyes as they go about their daily chores. If you like off-road vehicles and outdoor activities the summer is the most fun. Of course the fact that everything is half price in my opinion more than makes up for the humidity.

For a great weather report on Riviera Nayarit or Puerto Vallarta visit this link which will go into much more detail and statistics about the temperature and rain probabilities in Puerto Vallarta area. Plan your vacation and wedding accordingly.

Although we cannot promise it will not rain, I would consider it extreme bad luck if you happen to have a rainy forecast for your wedding during the dry months. My favorites months for weddings are November and December because the weather has just turned cooler and the sunsets are amazing plus the vegetation is much more lush and green immediately after the rainy season which ends in early October. February and March and April are amazing weather months for weddings as well with all the flowers blooming all over. Although it is mango season, my favorite fruit, I believe November and December are better for scenery since the vegetation is still so green and vibrant right after the rains. January, February and March are famous for whale watching though... You see, deciding what time of year is best is just terribly difficult when it is so good year around! So, enjoy the facts about the weather in the article I linked here and please visit Martoca Beach Garden for more information on destination weddings or anything you would like to know about our lovely bay area.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Sorpresa Mi Amor"... Sparks Will Fly!

With a spectacular sunset in the background the guests mingle and wait anxiously for the joyful newlyweds to take their long desired wedding pictures on the beach. The anxious groom awaits as well, for he knows something no one else does. The time will come for a fabulous dinner and some line dancing later on in the festive evening and sometime in between the dessert and the polka, a well prepared groom will reveal his ultimate surprise, the gift for his bride that will guarantee nothing else will matter all night. What do you have in mind?

If you are not prepared with your surprise as a groom, you are in risk of starting your marriage in the hole when the idea is to accumulate as many brownie points as possible from the beggining. You will need them soon enough, perhaps even that same evening!

Imagine this; just as your bride thinks all the special treats are over and it is just time to dance the night away... you make your move. This is when you bring out an encore of entertainment that is all about her. You could go with her favorite song performed live by her favorite local band or with a certain choreography by professional dancers and maybe the groom gets involved in the number, or, you bring out her favorite and most desired item that she thought was unattainable like the designer wedding cake or a certain musical group, a firework special,.. Yes, the one she really wanted but was sacrificed to keep within budget.

For the highest impact go with ultimate creativity; For instance, design lettering and symbols with a stove tubing with gas and fire that was previously hidden in the sand. With her name and yours enclosed in a symbol of love like a heart or her favorite flower or a butterfly. These will light up in flames just before the ocean line and it will remain lit throughout the night. Make sure no one knows except maybe your best friends. This should be done by turning all lights out and then light the gas just like a stove and with perfect timing, as if you were writing with a fountain pen of fire. Her response will be overwhelming. You can also do it with kerosene and channels created with a non-flammable material. However these are harder to conceal and you might sacrifice the surprise factor.

It can be anything she really would love, maybe phone a long lost best friend of hers and invite her and if she is one who is just out of luck at the moment and needs 400 extra bucks to make it down to the wedding then provide it for her a well. The key is to show how you planned it for a long time and with much care, detailed perfectly and of course show her how much you love her in front of everyone that is important to her in her special night. She will cherish this forever as will you.

With your triumphant display then you must go to your honeymoon suite and surprise her again. I am sure you have some great ideas for this since she has decided to marry you!

Buena Suerte!

Bride´s Review of Martoca Puerto Vallarta Wedding

"Hi all, I just wanted to put a little note out there to all the bride/groom that are looking for a venue I have found a great location with FANTASTIC service!!!!  The location is Martoca Beach Garden in Bucerias and "The Man" is James Basanez!!! He is absolutely wonderful!!!!  He has ideas that would knock your socks off and he is more than just a vendor, he is a friend!  There is never a time that you cannot get a hold of him, and he is so helpful in every way possible!  Whatever I want/need, he is right there with an answer and a good price ;)  He is the real reason why I choose to have a destination wedding in the first place!  The only people I communicate with is him and his coordinator Laura, they handle the rest from their!  When I first started planning, I was looking into the resorts over a private ground. I figured a resort is easier, they do weddings all the time and what can possibly go wrong!  Well let me tell you with what has gone wrong.  This is what I have experienced with MOST, but not all!  I will send an email and get a response within 24-48hrs, as you start asking more questions and wanting more specific answers the email response becomes delayed by a week or so.  I understand that people are busy but when it becomes a pattern, its unnecessary and frustrating, we can only do so much when were so far away!  The second thing I noticed, I become comfortable with a spokesman then down the road you get an email that the person no longer works their and that someone new will be taking over!  This happened to me at 3 different locations with 3 different people.  Enough said!!! I'm glad I started my research early, my wedding is not until March 2011 but after a stressful 5 months of trying to pick and choose a venue, my mind is now at ease!  The best thing about Martoca is the PRIVACY! That was a big key point for me.  James"Jimmy" is laid back, funny and he gives you that peace of mind that every destination bride is looking for!  If anyone is wanting more information, please feel free to contact me.  I will be more than happy to help out in anyway I can :)  Here is his website to view some photos."

See this review in the original website here
Thank you Kristen and all the lovely brides who have contacted me for your kind words. I will do everything in my power to help you and I will do so as soon as possible so your anxiety attacks do not scare off your future hubbies :) I will see you soon and I promise you the party of a lifetime.

For those brides or people interested in having their special events with us if you need to find more about us please visit Martoca Beach Garden for more information. In order to give you an accurate quote for your party please include as many specifics as possible like guest count, date and approximate budget or style of party. Also, we would be very greatful if you share this blog with a few of your amigos!

Monday, November 1, 2010


Marriage Humor:If you do not laugh out loud at these don´t worry, you will soon enough! Welcome to "The Club" future brides and Grooms.
Wife: 'What are you doing?'
Husband: Nothing.  
Wife: 'Nothing...? You've been reading our marriage certificate for an hour.'
Husband: 'I was looking for the expiry date.'

Wife: 'Do you want dinner?'  
Husband: 'Sure! What are my choices?'  
Wife: 'Yes or no.'

Husband: 'You always carry my photo in your wallet.. Why?'
Wife: 'When there is a problem, no matter how great, I look at your picture and the problem disappears.'
Husband: 'You see how miraculous and powerful I am for you?'  
Wife: Yes! I see your picture and ask myself what other problem can there be greater than this one?'

Stress Reliever Girl: 'When we get married, I want to share all your worries, troubles and lighten your burden.'
Boy: 'It's very kind of you, darling, but I don't have any worries or troubles.'
Girl: 'Well that's because we aren't married yet.'

A newly married man asked his wife, 'Would you have married me if my father hadn't left me a fortune?'
'Honey,' the woman replied sweetly, 'I'd have married you, NO MATTER WHO LEFT YOU A FORTUNE!'

A wife asked her husband: 'What do you like most in me, my pretty face or my sexy body?'
He looked at her from head to toe and replied: ' I like your sense of humor!'

I hope you enjoyed these jokes. I thought they were hilarious and I thought you future brides and grooms should be fairly warned, haha
By the way, I have to sleep on the sofa tonight but the post was worth it, no?
Visit Martoca Beach Garden´s website for more information to go out in style!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico as Safe as Denver, CO?

Mexico is roughly three times the size of Texas or 770,000 square miles. Or, about the size of the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas combined. Texas is well known so I will use it in the following analogy; If North Texas or the Dallas and the Fort Worth area are having Gang Violence would the Texas government issue warnings to stop visiting South Padre Island that is an 11 hour drive? Remember that Mexico is 3 times larger than Texas so, to be more precise with the distance comparison, if Denver were in chaos would you not feel safe in say, San Diego, CA or Houston, TX?
Better yet, let me put it this way for those of you not familiar with Texas or the Southwest; if we compare the distance between Juarez, the violence ridden border area where 90% of the violence occurs, and Puerto Vallarta in relation to the United States geography then, Puerto Vallarta, which is 774 miles away from Juarez, is actually further from the border area than the following cities are from and their respective frequented vacation spots:

Puerto Vallarta is further from Juarez/El Paso, TX and border areas than these US cities are from their "respective" vacation spots.

New York is 702 miles away from Hilton Head Island
Kansas City to New Orleans: 679 miles
Chicago to Virginia Beach: 709 Miles
Atlanta to Miami: 601 miles
Dallas to South Padre Island:468 miles
St. Louis to Hilton Head Island:694 miles
Albuquerque to Los Angeles: 665 miles
Salt Lake City to San Diego: 632 miles
Denver to San Diego is about 50 miles further: 830 miles

So, if Puerto Vallarta is 774 Miles away from the violent city of Juarez/El Paso, TX where most of the Drug war is being fought then these comparisons of US cities in relation to their resort destinations may help you see how the violence, although serious, is far from our vacation destination and should not alter your plans or deter you from visiting and/or having your wedding in Puerto Vallarta area. As you can see, it is a long way. Violence in major cities that are so far away from the tourist destinations should not stop anyone from visiting and enjoying some beach and sun!
This is another excercise that might help you see how we are a safely distanced from the border area with the drug war.  Did you know that the following US cities are closer to  the City of Juarez on the Arizona Border than Puerto Vallarta?

Denver, CO: 560 miles away
Wichita, Kansas: 656 miles away
Tulsa, Oklahoma: 675 miles away
Dallas, TX. 573 miles away
Pheonix, AZ: 349 miles Away
Houston, TX: 669 miles away
Cities that are closer than 500 miles to EL Paso and Juarez and border area violence like Austin, San Antonio, Tucson, Santa Fe, Albuquerque and more are almost half the distance closer than Puerto Vallarta. Would you not visit any of these cities because of violence in Juarez or El Paso,TX? Do not kid yourself, these drug lords are in those cities just as they are in Mexico. They are there because that is where the buyers are and those are the cities where they distribute their product and they organize other distribution routes that go further north and across to Canada. I am just saying that people who want to vacation should not categorize Puerto Vallarta as dangerous, or any other city that is so far away from the main problem area, simply because it is in the same country.
As a concerned citizen of this area I feel compelled to inform the potential visitors regarding where exactly the violence you hear constantly in the news actually is taking place. Of course we have had crime in our city of approximately 300,000 people (including surrounding areas) yet it is not nearly as bad as say any large city in the US. Would you walk down New Orleans at night, aside from Bourbon Street of course, I bet you would not. I would walk downtown in Puerto Vallarta at any time day or night and feel safe and you would also.

The fact is that Mexico is experiencing something similar to what the United States lived through in the 20´s and 30´s with the Saint Valentine´s Day Massacre in Chicago, as pictured above,  or in the 80´s in Florida in general and Miami in particular . Like this excerpt from an article states-

They called themselves "cocaine cowboys," and in the early 1980s, they gave Miami the highest murder rate in the world.
Daytime gunfights in the middle of the city between Colombian and Cuban drug cartels were routine. The morgue in Miami became so crowded that Dade County leased a refrigerated trailer from Burger King to handle all the bodies.
In the late 1980s and into the 1990s, the drug violence shifted to other cities, including Detroit and Los Angeles, where street gangs fought for control of the crack cocaine market. Gangs made these cities among the most violent in the United States...
-The storyline in Juárez is eerily familiar to Edna Buchanan, a former Miami Herald reporter who covered the police beat during the worst of the cocaine wars. Her coverage of crime in Miami brought her a Pulitzer Prize in 1986."These cocaine cowboys, as they were called in Miami, were ruthless," Buchanan said. "They would go in and shoot anyone they wanted, anywhere. If they were after a man, they would kill the wife, the children, and if the Avon lady rang the doorbell at the same time, they would kill her, too." Excerpt from article by Ramón Bracamontes of El Paso Times.

Our Northern border region and its cities like Monterrey, Reynosa, tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Torreón and others (Our Miami in the 80´s) are where the drug routes are being disputed and the "Narco War" is being fought daily with deadly violence. Fighting for who will control the United States and Canada billion dollar drug market and the trade routes. People may have avoided Miami in the 80´s but they still went to maybe Daytona or South Padre or Hilton Head and so on. This is the same situation.
Do not throw out the baby with the bath water amigos, Mexico is 1979 miles long from North to South, which is further than from Denver to Miami for example (1717 miles), a beautiful 5 day drive or so. Puerto vallarta is about half way. So, stop by and enjoy this amazing scenery and lovely friendly people.We cannot be held responsible for what some bad people are doing hundreds of miles away but we will make it up to you just the same. Just for making the trip and trusting in us and our city, have a Margarita or cold Corona on "la casa"... Salud!

As you can see, people are out enjoying life here La Martoca in Vallarta and Nayarit so come join us for a cold one!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

As seen on TV!

Thanks to Laura and Nick, a lovely couple who were married recently in our Martoca Beach Club & Garden, and Zac Campbell from EM-Vallarta wedding designers and planners, we were praised on a Television interview discussing destination weddings on the TV show Good Morning Texas. Martoca Beach Club, as it was referred to on the show, is the same as Martoca Beach Garden.


We are rapidly becoming recognized as a unique and stunning wedding venue for beachfront private weddings for couples who seek something more special than an all-inclusive hotel. 

For full video of their wedding please go to You Tube at

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

As seen on TV!

Thanks to Laura and Nick, a lovely couple who were married recently in our Martoca Beach Club & Garden, and Zac Campbell from EM-Vallarta, wedding designers and planners, we were praised on a Television interview discussing destination weddings on the TV show Good Morning Texas. Martoca Beach Club, as it was referred to on the show, is the same as Martoca Beach Garden.


We are rapidly becoming recognized as a unique and stunning wedding venue for beachfront private weddings for couples who seek something more special than an all-inclusive hotel. 

For full video of their wedding please go to You Tube at

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Felicidades a Caros Zarate y Katalina en su Boda

Una pareja más ha disfrutado de una puesta de sol perfecta y del hermoso jardín en Martoca Beach Garden. En este pasado 23 de Ocutbre unieron sus vidas en matrimonio Carlos y Katalina que son una pareja muy linda y que decidieron disfrutar el jardín con su naturaleza y muy poca decoración para el jardín.

Carlos una vez me mencionó que el jardín y la naturaleza junto a la playa era lo que el buscaba y que no necesitaba decoración. El sol hizo lo suyo y el día estuvo perfecto, tenías razón Carlos! Felicidades.

Mexico: A Wonderful Wedding Venue

Your wedding is certainly a very special occasion, and Mexico has the ideal conditions to make it an unforgettable event. Every Mexican destination offers a wide array of possibilities to make the most significant celebration of your life a pleasant experience. Among the many options, you can opt for an intimate ceremony by the sea, a mystical ritual performed by a shaman, or an elegant fiesta with hundreds of guests in a garden or colonial hacienda. As for accommodations, you can choose to stay in a posh hotel or resort, or perhaps a room on a yacht or cruise liner. To cherish this memorable event, you might want to consider a traditional wedding in one of Mexico’s beautiful old churches. After the ceremony, you can enjoy an extraordinary banquet of regional or international cuisine. Places like the Mayan Riviera, Oaxaca City and Los Cabos will offer everything you need to have a traditional wedding with excellent catering services and personalized attention. Various companies will take care of all your wedding needs by offering transportation and makeup services, photographers and decorations. They also provide a judge or priest to conduct the ceremony so that you can enjoy your special day without a care in the world. If you’re feeling the jitters, you can get a relaxing massage or take a temazcal steam bath to ease the tension. All of these destinations offer the perfect combination of culture and tradition, as well as unbeatable natural environments and top-notch services, making them the ideal spots for a unique and unforgettable wedding. What’s more, the day after the ceremony you can enjoy the added pleasure of celebrating your honeymoon in Mexico.

Of course, we are partial to Martoca Beach Garden and encourage you to choose our lovely wedding venue in the Pacific West Coast in Puerto Vallarta area. However, we believe anyone of these aformentioned locations would do just fine as your host where you may experience the most romantic wedding and unforgettable experience.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Let´s give thanks and welcome this exquisite weather in Puerto Vallarta! Daily 75 to 85 degrees and sunny. Amazing!

In the evenings or nights you can expect between 65 degrees and 75 degrees in the winter. You may even have to use a light sweater or wind breaker from now on when on the beach, due to the cool breeze of the coast. In the day time the high will be approximately 85 degrees. So come join us for your special event in Martoca Beach Garden and enjoy perfect weather throughout the winter time.

Martoca, destination wedding beach venue, Puerto Vallarta

Welcome to our brand new blog! My name is James, my "amigos" call me Jimmy, I am in charge of promoting our destination wedding venue and finding lovely couples to join their hearts in marriage on our stunning Martoca Beach Garden beachfront wedding location.

Wedding coordinators in Puerto Vallarta have marveled while observing our popularity grow at a breathtaking pace among brides in our wedding destination in Mexico. The reviews of Martoca´s instalations such as private bride´s quarters, luxury handtiled bathrooms, infinity pools and 20,000 sqft beachfront garden with full kitchen and bar have enchanted all wedding experts.

We are very proud and excited to offer our wedding planner services as well or if you like you may design your own reception and we will step aside and just rent the venue and support you with any questions or advice you may need. Congratulations and welcome to our wedding location in Mexico.Contact information:Jimmy Basañez

Founder and Wedding Consultant
From USA (011-52-322) 120-6098 / (011-52-329) 298-0008
Bucerías, Nayarit, Mexico

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Wonderful Story; A Must Read For Bucerías and Vallarta Lovers

Tales from the Pacific


 As found in the Wall Street Journal

A writer journeys to Riviera Nayarit and discovers treasures in the Sierra Madre, art-filled streets — even a Bear or two

As we ventured out into Banderas Bay, the horseshoe-shaped cove just north of Puerto Vallarta in the resort area of Riviera Nayarit, a whale and its baby came up to the surface of the Pacific-blue waters. I was on an observer’s boat going to watch La Regata Copa México, part of the Mexican bicentennial celebration (this year marks the 200th anniversary of the country’s independence and the 100th anniversary of its revolution). With five participating classes — Oceanic MEXORC, J24, Optimist, Kitesurf and Windsurf — I was told it would be one of the most competitive events in the sailing world, on par with America’s Cup, Copa del Rey and Rolex Cup Racing.
The races began. Watching a kite-surfer fluttering along the dazzling coastline, sipping a Red Sky (a popular beach drink like a Bloody Mary made with beer instead of vodka), I couldn’t help but think how much sailing was like ballet. I was mesmerized by how elegantly and quickly the crews moved around their vessels in synchronized motion.
The victor of the MEXORC was a craft I had written off: the Akela (USA). It left early and was required to restart the race. However, it deftly maneuvered the oscillating winds, hoisting a different sail than the vessels on either side of it —- a jib — to overtake the competition to everyone’s surprise. It was a thrill to watch.
After returning to shore I joined the flow of spectators drifting toward the covered grandstands for a presentation. There was some commotion as a distinguished-looking man walked toward me, who seemed to be shaking hands with everyone.
Suddenly, I realized who he was. I stuttered, “Hola, Mr. President!”
On my first day in Riviera Nayarit, I had simply stumbled into Felipe Calderón, the president of the country. Something told me it was just going to be that sort of trip.
In the evening I ate on the outdoor patio of the Café des Artistes in Punta Mita, a long stretch of white-sand beaches and coves sprinkled with exclusive resorts. I dined on avocado with mango sorbet, lobster with crawfish from local rivers and a smooth local wine, a 2005 Malbec. I discovered the restaurant’s chef, Geraldo Sandoval, was just named one of the eight finalists for Mexican chef of the year. I found it hard to believe there were seven other people in the country who could cook like this.
Outside the restaurant, I spied a little placard that read: “Do you embrace the beauty of nature? Do you have a whimsical and adventurous spirit?”
In Riviera Nayarit, I decided it’s best to follow the signs and go with the flow. So the next day, I took a tour with Vallarta Adventures, first speed-boating across the bay and then taking a 25-minute jeep ride up the winding roads of the cloud-dipped Sierra Madre Mountains. The next leg was a burro ride up a thin path framed by vibrant trees and bushes. From there, I zip-lined, an exhilarating sport where I whizzed along cables strung from trees in the jungle, and then rappelled down the cliffs alongside a tropical waterfall.
At the end of the journey, my exuberant tour guide Gibran warmly shook my hand and surprised me by saying, “We must meet for a drink after I get off from work!”
Delighted, I agreed to catch up with him at his favorite bar, Yo Yo Mo’s, and upon arrival, bravely tried to order my first drink of the day in the local language.
“I’m sorry,” the young Canadian waitress replied pleasantly. “I don’t speak Spanish.” She saw my baffled expression and laughed.
“A lot of people in Riviera Nayarit speak English,” she told me. “If they don’t, we manage to figure it out.” She was right. It struck me how everyone I encountered — taxi drivers, shop owners, waiters, even people on the street — patiently engaged me in English and coached me to improve my high-school Spanish pronunciation.
Gibran arrived, slapping the backs of everyone in the place. Over the next two hours, we drank tequila, ate delectable Mexican pizza (best pizza I’ve ever had), and chatted and laughed with the Mexican nationals, Canadians and American ex-pats who stopped by our table. It felt like I met half of Riviera Nayaritin one night.
We ended up at a place called the Shamrock and spent time with the owner, Belfast native Sharon Maeve Bell. I ordered a shot of tequila and, in deference to her homeland, chased it with a Guinness.
Sharon downed a shot as well. “I visited Mexico and fell in love with it, especially the people,” she said. “Where we are, it’s like living in a small town — I can let my nine-year-old go to the store without worrying.”
The following morning, I decided to enjoy the pleasures of the hotel I was staying at: the spectacular Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita. I came to understand why mita means “Gateway to Paradise” in theancient Aztec language. I relaxed in the Jacuzzi then took a walk to see the amazing golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, where the “Whale of a Tail” hole 3B requires players to take an amphibious golf cart out to tee off from a rocky offshore atoll.
From there, I headed to the town of Bucerias, known for its laid-back atmosphere and fine art scene with 17 galleries along a three-block stretch of cobblestone streets. With a little time on my hands, I took a mosaic-making class at a gallery called A Broken Art.
As I toiled on my masterpiece, an older man, who was walking his dog, craned his neck to examine my tile project. I asked what he thought of my effort.
“It reminds me of a piece of sculpture,” he said diplomatically.
I didn’t fully appreciate the compliment until I learned the passerby was the renowned sculptor George Pratt, who designed the massive jade centerpiece for the Canadian pavilion at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. George told me he vacations in this area every year, during which time he relaxes by painting watercolors — mostly Mexican street scenes.
Working contently on my mosaic in the open courtyard, shaded by a majestic palm tree as a dog slept on the cobblestones nearby, I realized I was living just the kind of scene George would paint.
Dinner was the toughest decision of the day. At every turn, the food was incredible — from the hand-pressed corn tacos made by a local woman in her own home to scintillating Latin-Asian cuisine at the Four Seasons’ Aramara restaurant. I settled on Claudio’s, a Bucerias seaside restaurant with great coconut shrimp and topped it off with a quick trip to the Pie in the Sky Café and Bakery to sample a decadent local treat: besos (kisses), a brownie-like dessert with a molten fudge center and light sprinkling of pecans.
I spent the final days of my trip at the Hotel RIU Palace Pacifico, a large, lush resort located on Playa de Flamingos beach just a couple of miles from Nuevo Vallarta. While debating whether to go to the Renova Spa, kayak or just wade up to the bar inside the pool for a piña colada, a friendly, uniformed woman came up to my lounge chair and inquired, “Do you want to play fútbol with the Chicago Bears?”
I thought she was joking, but a few minutes later, I stood on the beach between two wide receivers for the Chicago Bears, Devin Hester and Earl Bennett. The event was a kind of Survivor-like challenge that any hotel guest or vacationer strolling by on the beach could take part in. The players were chatting with and high-fiving all the guests. We were playing a game where we tossed a balloon full of water to a partner. My balloon burst in the sand five feet in front me. “Yup, knew you wouldn’t make that one,” teased Earl.
Devin, who returned the opening kickoff in Super Bowl XLI for a touchdown, and Earl caught their balloons like they were feathers floating gently from the sky.
By this point, it didn’t even seem strange to find myself partying by chance with NFL players. Something about Riviera Nayarit made me anticipate the extraordinary.
Joe Mullich has written for the Los Angeles Times, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Reader’s Digest, Men’s Health, The Onion and 150 other publications.